RAPID RESPONSE TEAM ACTION LIST FOR FEB 12, 2021

The RRT (Rapid Response Team) Action List compiles action items from the week and upcoming events into one place. If you would like to add anything to the weekly update, please send it to Dee Halzack at dee@solidaritylowell.com.

BE CAREFUL OUT THERE FOR THE SAFETY OF YOURSELF AND EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

Priority Actions

Write to City Councilors with your concern about their proposal to change election of Mayor and School Committee

In the November 24 City Council meeting, Councilor Elliott requested a discussion of the process of changing the system of electing the mayor to allow voters to decide (currently city councilors elect the mayor from among themselves).
On December 22, Council Rourke made a motion asking the City Manager to “Have Law Dept. Propose To The Plaintiffs’ Counsel Of Voting Rights Litigation To Have School Committee Elected Using The Same 8 Districts Created For The City Council, With The Mayor Being Elected As The 9th Member Of The Committee.”
In the January 26 City Council Meeting, City Manager Donoghue reported back on the Law Departments findings on the matter, that plaintiffs in the lawsuit were open to discussing the matter but wanted to wait until the results of the next election. Some councilors pointed out that plaintiffs in the lawsuit should be involved in any discussion of changes, since the system had already been decided on in settling the lawsuit. The Council then voted 6-2 to support changing the method of selecting the mayor and 7-1 to change the method of voting for school committee.
https://www.lowellsun.com/2021/01/26/lowell-city-council-to-seek-changes-to-voting-rights-consent-decree/
We urge you to write to city councilors expressing your concern about their January 26 vote to make changes to our electoral system, one we already voted on.
Webform to reach councilors: https://www.lowellma.gov/FormCenter/Contact-the-City-Council-5/City-Council-Contact-Form-45
Message template:
Regarding the recent vote at the January 26 City Council meeting to change our agreed-upon new electoral system, it is disappointing that City Council seems to be choosing to change the system agreed on by voters in the city without input from the plaintiffs to the lawsuit or the voters. Are City Councilors not aware that Lowell’s at-large system has been a contributing factor in the loss of trust and engagement in the local democratic process among many community members?
Representation is important. Our new electoral system was agreed on in order to provide diverse people from all parts of our city with a fair chance at being elected to city council and to ensure that at least two councilors be from minority communities. While this is fairer, the three at large seats will still be easier for long-time councilors from the same district as always to win. And because they are better known, it will also be easier for those same long-time councilors to win an election for mayor when the vote is put to the people of the city. Far from being fairer, an election for mayor put to the vote of the entire electorate of the city will undo the intent of the lawsuit’s settlement.
I urge you NOT to change the way the mayor is elected, especially not before the first election with new district councilors.

COVID Eviction Legal Help Project (CELHP) stands ready to help

https://evictionlegalhelp.org/
The COVID Eviction Legal Help Project (CELHP) was formed to expand the capacity of legal aid organizations in Massachusetts to provide urgently needed legal assistance in COVID-related eviction cases. The CELHP website allows organizations to provide referrals, along with guiding people to legal information and other assistance, such as representation, to achieve housing stability.
Through CELHP’s website, people can find updates about eviction laws and programs and make referrals directly to legal services through our online referral form.
The CELHP team is also available to attend meetings to brief people about CELHP. If you have thoughts about how your organization and network can help, they would love to hear them. They are trying to reach some of the most vulnerable people in our Commonwealth, so that they know they have access to legal representation before they get to court.
Shaikh Hasib
Communications and Outreach Coordinator
COVID Eviction Legal Help Program (CELHP)
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
https://evictionlegalhelp.org/contact/

Solidarity Lowell Events and Actions

Have a few minutes to take action? Do you like Postcarding?

Solidarity Lowell is re-starting our postcarding events virtually on Zoom. Send postcards to legislators and officials to support issues you care about.
Please fill out the following form if you’re interested in joining the group!
https://forms.gle/h2V7gJ1e2WbY9dKU9

Next Solidarity Lowell General Meeting

Sunday February 28, 5:30pm, via Zoom
Main Topic: The Environment
More details to follow

Local Events and Actions

March for Moses

Saturday February 13th, 12:00-2:00pm (rain or shine)
850 Lawrence Street, Lowell
March to Lowell Police Headquarters (JFK Plaza/Arcand Drive)
Demand justice for Moses Harris, who disappeared during an encounter with the police. No police report has been made public as of publication date.
Hosted by CAJE: Community Advocates for Justice and Equality https://www.facebook.com/CAJE.LowellMA

Contact Maura Healey Seeking Justice for Moses Harris

We ask that you contact the office of Maura Healey regarding the incident with Moses Harris. If you are so moved, you should also contact your State Representative and State Senator, and our City Councilors here in Lowell (information below).
Attorney General Maura Healey (617) 727-2200
Form to contact Lowell City Councilors: https://www.lowellma.gov/FormCenter/Contact-the-City-Council-5/City-Council-Contact-Form-45
Sample Script: “Hello, this is [Name] calling from [Address, City, State, ZIP] and Solidarity Lowell. Are you aware of the disappearance of Moses Harris in Lowell? Moses Harris disappeared into the Concord River on December 19th during an encounter with the Lowell Police. No one has seen Moses since. The Harris-Wahpo family has been seeking answers about the incident, and the police have yet to release the police report or discuss the case with the family. I ask that you investigate this incident, and find out which department policies were followed or violated that allowed this to happen. Thank you!”
NOTE: It is important that you include your full name and address (including ZIP code).

Lowell Votes seeks volunteers to help register and educate voters and find candidates

http://www.lowellvotes.org
Next meeting: February 16, 2pm
Now that we’ll actually have a more equitable electoral system in the city, we need to help voters understand that their vote will matter in this election, help them understand the system and register to vote.

Weekly LLAMA Housing Advocacy Meeting

Thursday, February 18, 5pm
Concerned about the eviction crisis in Lowell? Would you like to join a group working on ways to address it? This is the group. Current plans include publication of a resource booklet, a simple flier with steps for folks facing eviction, and neighborhood organizing.
978-222-7877 lowellhousingaction@riseup.net
Watch for an announcement of the next meeting, with Zoom link at
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2658623527701727/
Or contact the group via the phone number.

City Hall Closed to Public

City Hall is now closed to the public due to the status of the pandemic in our city.

Standing Up For Democracy

The late Congressman John Lewis, in his last message to us, said “Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part.” We recently learned the consequences of thinking active participation wasn’t necessary.

This section will include opportunities for you to participate in strengthening our democracy.

Check Out Movement Labs

Send texts in support of various progressive groups. You may have known them as Resistance Labs before the 2020 election. Campaigns now include voter registration and candidate recruitment for 2022. Organizations supported include Contest Every Race and Black Voters Matter.
https://movementlabs.com/

Support H.R. 1 and H.R. 51

Use the handy form to call your representative in support of H.R. 1, the We the People Act that includes reforms to strengthen democracy (such as an end to gerrymandered districts and no-excuse absentee voting) and H.R.51, which would grant statehood to the District of Columbia. After you’ve called, get your family and friends in other states to do the same thing.
https://indivisible.org/demand-your-representative-support-and-move-swiftly-hr-1-and-hr-51

For more opportunities, see the Announcement section of our Facebook Group
https://www.facebook.com/groups/SolidarityLowell

State-Level Events and Actions

Comment on the Interim Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030

The public comment period for the Plan has been extended. Comments are now being accepted until 5pm on March 22nd, 2021.
Details are at http://www.mass.gov/2030CECP. Stakeholders are encouraged to use this online form to submit specific comments.
You can sign up to receive updates at https://www.mass.gov/forms/form-1-mailing-list
Also, a reminder that the MA 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap is also available at http://www.mass.gov/2050Roadmap. The report as well as slides and video of a 2050 Roadmap webinar held on 1/15 are available from that link.

Ask your legislators to co-sponsor the resubmitted Safe Communities Act (SD.532 and HD.1165)

This will be the third legislative session for this bill, which lets our local police focus on their priorities and not federal immigration priorities. The bill was reported out of Committee favorably in the last session but the session ended before it could be brought to a vote. You can help get it passed this time around by urging your legislators to co-sponsor it. Counting co-sponsors is an initial step in assessing support for a bill, so the more co-sponsors the more likely it is to be quickly brought to a vote and passed.
https://actionnetwork.org/…/pass-the-safe-communities-act
NOTE: The Action Network has not yet updated its contact information for newly elected state legislators. Constituents of Rep. Vanna Howard, please copy and paste this sample email into your own email browser and send it. We apologize for the inconvenience! Legislator contact information is given below.

Contact your legislators about the refiled Work and Family Mobility Act (HD.448/SD.228)

Another piece of legislation important to public safety that did not get voted on before the end of the last legislative session. Lead sponsors, Representatives Christine Barber and Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Senators Brendan Crighton and Adam Gomez, have refiled the bill in both the House (HD.448) and the Senate (SD.273)! There is a co-sponsorship drive to gain support for the Work and Family Mobility Act! There are currently 50 co-sponsors; there were 80 last session, so and it is hoped there will be more.
Email your State Senator and Representative at http://bit.ly/2021-dff-email and call to ask them to co-sponsor the Work and Family Mobility Act (HD.448/SD.228), You can find their numbers at the end of this section, or look them up here https://bit.ly/dff-leg-lookup.

Email your legislator, asking them to support Raise Up Massachusetts campaigns

The Fair Share Amendment! Ask your elected officials to support this policy by ensuring it is brought up for a second constitutional convention and receives a YES vote from them when it does! Fair Share would add a 4% tax on annual income over $1 million and dedicate the revenue to transportation and public education.
Emergency Paid Sick Time! Working people should not be forced to make the impossible choice between going to work while sick during a pandemic or getting the pay they need to put food on the table. This policy would provide 10 additional work-days (80 hours) of job-protected paid sick time for immediate use during the pandemic. (H.531 / S.386)
GILTI! Some of the largest, most profitable businesses in Massachusetts are multinational corporations who use unfair tax schemes to shift their profits overseas and away from U.S. tax collectors. This policy would allow Massachusetts to track down those bad actors and tax those offshore profits. (H.452 / S.173)
Increase the Corporate Tax Rate! Before 2009, the corporate tax rate was 9.5%. By restoring the current 8.0% tax rate to 9.5% we can generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new state revenue back into the recovery of our communities – all from profitable corporations. (H.1020 / S.428)
https://actionnetwork.org/letters/support-the-raise-up-massachusetts-campaigns
Again, constituents of Representative Howard will want to copy and paste the message from the form into their email client and write to her directly.

Call to action from Massachusetts Menstrual Equity Coalition

This year, as the State is preparing its priorities for the state budget – we demand that the feminization of poverty not be ignored. Periods do not stop during pandemics. No one should have to choose between food, a roof over their head, their education, and access to menstrual products, and yet every day in Massachusetts, menstruators are forced to make exactly that choice. Legislators are deciding their priorities now, and we need them to both co-sponsor and *champion* HD651: An Act Relative to Increase Access to Disposable Menstrual Products in Prisons, Homeless Shelters and Public Schools (I AM bill) in the 193rd legislative session and not relegate period poverty to invisible status anymore.
https://actionnetwork.org/letters/prioritize-period-poverty-in-the-massachusetts-recovery-plan

Find your State Legislators here

House Speaker Ronald Mariano Ronald.Mariano@mahouse.gov 617-722-2300
Senate President: Karen E. Spilka: Karen.Spilka@masenate.gov 617-722-1500
Rep. Thomas Golden Thomas.Golden@mahouse.gov 617-722-2263
Rep. Vanna Howard Vanna.Howard@mahouse.gov 617-722-2800 x7302 / 508-633-8005
Rep. Rady Mom Rady.Mom@mahouse.gov 617-722-2460
Rep. Tami Gouveia Tami.gouveia@mahouse.gov 617-722-2011
Rep. Colleen Garry Colleen.Garry@mahouse.gov 617-722-2380
Rep. Tram Nguyen tram.nguyen@mahouse.gov 617-722-2425
Sen. Edward Kennedy edward.kennedy@masenate.gov 617-722-1630
Sen. Michael Barrett Mike.Barrett@masenate.gov 617-722-1572
Sen. Jamie Eldridge James.Eldridge@masenate.gov 617-722-1120
Sen. Barry Finegold Barry.Finegold@masenate.gov 617-722-1612
…or…
Find My Legislator: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator
……
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon St
Boston, MA 02133
 

National Events and Actions

Sign on to Black Alliance for Peace Petition to Abolish 1033 programs

The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) has demanded abolition of the 1033 program since its founding in 2017. It is now asking the public to sign a petition demanding the Biden administration and Democrats commit to abolishing this racist and brutal program. The program, which gives surplus military gear to police departments, has been notorious for contributing to the excessive use of force by police in this country.
Sign on to the petition here: http://tinyurl.com/295pmomo

Live with the 19th!: Black Women, Power and the Ballot

Friday, February 19, 1pm EST
Join The 19th’s Editor-at-large Errin Haines on Friday, Feb. 19 at 12 p.m. CT/1 p.m. ET. for a conversation on Black women organizing, voting and leading in the new American democracy – and what it means for an expanding electorate. 19th Editor-at-Large Errin Haines will be joined by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter LaTosha Brown; U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; and political commentator Tara Setmayer.
To register: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/live-with-the-19th-black-women-power-ballot/register

Ongoing Solidarity Lowell Initiatives

Support for Asylum-Seeker Marius

Marius is the Togolese asylum seeker whom the Merrimack Valley Interfaith Sanctuary Network (MVISN) is sponsoring. With generous support from people like you and MVISN member groups like ours, Marius has retained an immigration lawyer, filed an application for asylum, and successfully moved his case to the Boston immigration courts from El Paso, exponentially increasing his possibility of ultimately winning his case. Until Marius receives legal authorization to work, our network has committed to financially supporting him with $500/month. Can you chip in towards the $500 we need to meet our commitment to him? Any amount will be gratefully accepted. Consider becoming a “sustaining supporter” by making a recurring monthly donation, no size too small! We are also looking for folks who are interested in helping in an ongoing basis, in any of these three committees: Legal, Fundraising, and Housing. If you’re interested, please email mvisn@solidaritylowell.com.
Donate here: http://www.merrimackvalleyproject.org/donate-1/ (please write “asylum” in the “special notes” part of the donation form)

Solidarity Lowell is a volunteer group of community members of Greater Lowell working toward social justice by defending the human rights, dignity, and equality of all persons against all forms of hate and discrimination.

Visit the Solidarity Lowell website at solidaritylowell.com

For more events not listed here, visit the full Events calendar: http://solidaritylowell.com/events/

For volunteer opportunities, visit our Volunteer page: http://solidaritylowell.com/volunteer-opportunities/

View the notes from our January meeting here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Vcq_XUI2YXU4Qnb2lD8OuX7TPs-8JpWcDZ5IuRNb9e4/edit?usp=sharing

Recording of our January meeting: https://youtu.be/pxqVzfcN31A

Solidarity Lowell is a chapter of Progressive Massachusetts. Click here to joinhttps://www.progressivemass.com/contribute

Posted by Caroline Snow